View Comments
Theatres in program limbo
Bianco's NoFit State Circus in Forrest Place. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Pressure is growing on the State Government to resolve how the State's main theatres are run and to improve programming and performance opportunities for local artists all-year-round.

This month is the busiest time of the year, with most venues presenting back-to-back shows for the Perth International Arts Festival.

Festival 2014: Full coverage |

But many WA producers and independent artists have complained that they cannot afford to put on shows at the Perth Theatre Trust venues, leaving them unused too often during the year.

This is among several issues examined by an independent review of the venues, which include the Perth Concert Hall, State Theatre Centre and His Majesty's Theatre.

The report by management consultants Pracsys was compiled last year, presented to the Trust board on November 1 and recommendations made to Culture and the Arts Minister John Day last week.

"We are in limbo," Australian Performing Arts Centres Association executive director Rick Heath said yesterday.

"To a little extent the industry is being held to ransom because we are waiting to see what the next step is. It is impossible to plan and work in a sector that has that big a variable."

The challenges and risks of programming theatre, dance and other performances were canvassed by a trio of international producers at a session led by Perth Festival artistic director Jonathan Holloway yesterday.

Dublin Theatre Festival artistic director Willie White, Canadian Stage producer Sherrie Johnson and Sadler's Wells executive producer Suzanne Walker all stressed the need for venues to have clear, well-funded programming policies to boost audiences, diversify the shows on offer and develop new talent.

Mr Holloway said that approach was lacking in WA's Government-run theatres. "There isn't a single artistic director-led arts venue in Perth," he said.

He hoped to see some changes in time for the 2015 Festival.

"We are working off a worst-case scenario, which is that nothing changes and that it is easier to open maybe 200 new venues, speigeltents, sheds, huts and bars than it is to look at the six that are the centrepiece of our arts infrastructure," he said

Current contractor AEG Ogden will run the venues for an extra six months beyond the mid-year expiry of its contract to give the Government extra time to wrestle with its options.

PTT chairman Peter Blaxell has said that the venues must attract more audiences and be more efficient money-earners.

The Festival and Fringe World both attracted big numbers at the weekend.

One show proving a raging success is Bianco, whose performers from NoFit State Circus staged an impromptu show in Forrest Place on Saturday.